The past few months I’ve been watching the Google updates create 3 types of reactions around the Web.
Happiness that the spammers and internet marketers are getting their asses handed to them.
Anger due to all the changes and the need to make changes to keep up.
Confusion of how to please the Panda/Penguin.
For those bloggers who have concerns about their blog’s search engine ranking, this post is for you.
Google’s #1 priority is being a search engine
Though some beg to differ. Some will say Google’s priority is selling Ad space, but that’s a story for another day.
Keeping in mind that Google is a search engine, their number one priority is serving up relevant, quality content based on your search query.
I know I shared this video a few weeks ago, but it’s worth sharing again. Forget the fact that this video is for “how to use adsense properly”. Instead, pay attention to what Google is really saying about usability for your visitors.
1. Important to consider ad size and ad placement relative to the amount of content on your site. Meaning you need to have more content than ads.
2. The focus of your site should always be to deliver the best possible user experience. Meaning I should have to scroll past a bunch of stuff to find your actual post.
3. Important to balance the ratio of content to ads. Meaning see 1 + 2 above. If you don’t have any ads or affiliate links, you can write a 300 word post and it’s all good – if it’s easy to find and good content.
4. Create a useful and info rich site. Here’s what I think this means and if Google says I’m wrong, Google doesn’t know any better. We can assume “info rich” means a site providing information – recent events, news, how-tos, etc. But what about “useful”? What does useful mean? Well, to me, as a blog reader, web surfer, researcher, woman, wife, mom and entrepreneur, I’d have to say “useful” content is anything I bloody enjoy and helps me. Whether it helps me by sharing something I can relate to or something that brightens my day, it’s useful. What makes it good content is that it’s unique in the sense that it’s written with a voice that’s sharing an experience.
5. When creating content, avoid copying material from other sites, auto generating or rewriting text from other publications. Meaning, write your own damn content. Be unique, damnit.
6. Navigation should be easy and intuitive. Meaning your design, layout and navigation should promote you content and make it easy to find. Once you click on a search engine result, you should be able to find what you’re looking for immediately and finding related pages should be easy.
7. Key to success is placing relative ads alongside great content. Great content. Not shallow crap you’ve copied from someone else or copy written for search engine ranking just so you can promote your banner ads in the sidebar or affiliate links in your posts.
If this is your first visit to my blog, let me get you up to speed.
I write long ass posts. I search engine optimize my posts. I don’t keyword stuff and I don’t pay for back links.
I have 3 pages on this blog with affiliate links and those three pages have an extreme amount of content – one had how to videos and screenshots. The blog was doing pretty damn well all this time. My page ranking in search results was page one for my affiliate posts and my design services.
As some point I added the online shop. I sold my premade themes through e-junkie, but I had a shop page hear with almost no content, only pictures of the themes, a link to the demo site for each theme and the link to purchase from e-junkie. Of course those purchase links were affiliate links. It’s how it works with e-junkie.
When the 2nd to last Google update rolled out, which would be the last “Panda” update, I got hit pretty hard and it took me weeks to figure out it was due to that one page.
Now that I’ve taken it out of the e-junkie shop, removed the affiliate links and offer the themes for free, my place in the search engine results is rising again. Slowly.
Does this apply to bloggers without affiliate links and banner ads?
You bet your ass it does.
The main thing to remember, Google wants to serve up quality content. I mean really, will you keep using Google if all the results lead to pages that don’t satisfy your needs in a pinch? You search when you’re looking for something. And when you’re looking for something, it’s something you want right now.
So usability based on design and load time is important.
If I’m searching for a recipe, do you think I want to wait until your big ass header image and all your networking gadgets load before i can scroll down your page to find the recipe, or am I just going to hit the back button and find another site?
Yes, you heard right. Big Ass Header and Networking Gadgets.
Notice the size of my header and notice there’s no Facebook like box in the sidebar?
Last year I had a 300 pixel high header. And my menu was about 75 pixels high. Guess what? The area above “the fold” which is the bottom of the browser screen without scrolling is 500 pixel high on average. That means when someone visited via a search engine result, they didn’t see what they were looking for immediately. They had to scroll to find it. Oh! And at some point I had a leaderboard too. All of this, is a big no-no when it comes to usability.
Five weeks after reducing my header size, my alexa dropped by 100k. Since then I’ve been making my header shorter and shorter.
Google wants content above the fold. How much content depends on how many ads are on the page. For example, here’s a screenshot of my other site which is still a work in progress. Though this site only has one post and 2 pages of content, and about 15 redirects to the posts I moved here, the alexa is still dropping. Notice how much text is above the fold? Notice that the text has keywords pertaining to my services, but isn’t written for the search engines? This page has no affiliate links, no banners and no outbound links.
As for load time, 6 months ago I had twitter, facebook, networked blogs and the blog frog in my sidebar. I also had buttons for many networking platforms and widgets from sites like Social Moms and The Skinny Scoop.
Now you’ll only find the blogfrog. Hell, I no longer have the Google+ badge with the little pictures either.
Now, I really really like The Skinny Scoop, and they are amazing about promoting your posts once you have their poll in your sidebar. My reach was great when I had it. But my page load time was awful and I had 15 errors when I ran my site through http://validator.w3.org/.
The BlogFrog Widget is the only widget that doesn’t put demand on my load time. Also there were several outbound links from my pages due to the facebook and networked blogs gadget.
Just the Beginning
This is just the icing on the cake people. There are a lot of other “requirements” to being judged as an authoritative blog. The last update, now called Penguin, has added stipulations that cover your back links. Not just back links that were paid for, but where you back links come from. Though quantity of links count, the quality of those links are based on the quality of the site they’re coming from. One link from a “quality” site is better than 30 links from a shitty site.
And Social proof is another signal as to whether or not your content is “useful”.
So please, love your fellow blogger and share their posts.
Click here for more info straight from the horse’s mouth about Google friendly design and layout amongst other crap.
If you’d like to get real helpful info on your page speed click here.
But before you go, would you do a sistah a solid and share this post? Thanks.